Facebook is adding more oversight to its ads targeting policies and tools in response to reports the social media site’s automated system enabled people to purchase discriminatory ads.
Chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg said Facebook would now have more manual review of ad targeting options to keep offensive terms from popping up.
The move comes after a report from ProPublica revealed Facebook had permitted advertisers to market to “Jew haters,” as well as to people who had expressed interest in “How to burn jews,” or, “History of ‘why jews ruin the world.’”
Sandberg, who is Jewish, said the fact that Facebook’s algorithm created anti-Semitic categories was a “fail on our part.” She said Facebook disabled some of its targeting capabilities last week in its ad systems after seeing the report.
“Seeing those words made me disgusted and disappointed – disgusted by these sentiments and disappointed that our systems allowed this.” Sandberg said in a Facebook post. “Hate has no place on Facebook – and as a Jew, as a mother, and as a human being, I know the damage that can come from hate.”
Facebook is implementing three steps to ensure its targeted advertising functionality is not abused in the future.
The first step is to clarify its advertising policies and shore up its enforcement processes to prevent content contrary to its community standards being used in the future to target ads.
Next, Facebook is adding “more human review and oversight” to its automated processes.
“After manually reviewing existing targeting options, we are reinstating the roughly 5,000 most commonly used targeting terms – such as ‘nurse,’ ‘teacher’ or ‘dentistry’,” Sandberg said. “We have made sure these meet our Community Standards. From now on we will have more manual review of new ad targeting options to help prevent offensive terms from appearing.”
Lastly, Facebook is in the process of putting a program in place that will urge Facebook users to report abuse directly to the social network.
“We hope these changes will prevent abuses like this going forward. If we discover unintended consequences in the future, we will be unrelenting in identifying and fixing them as quickly as possible,” Sandberg said. “We have long had a firm policy against hate on Facebook. Our community deserves to have us enforce this policy with deep caution and care.”